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Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc.
38 East Market Street, Rhinebeck, New York 12572 USA -  845-876-2626
Vegetarian - Vegan - Animal Rights - Health - Nutrition - Environment

The mission of the Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society, Inc. is to promote the vegetarian ethic in the Mid-Hudson (New York) region, educate the community and aid anyone in the pursuit of a totally vegetarian (vegan) cruelty-free and healthful lifestyle.

Newsletters - Winter 2008 Issue

Vegan journey
by Robin Henderson 

I grew up in urban New Jersey without much exposure to animals except for the stray cats my mom frequently trapped to bring to shelters for spaying and neutering. Living on welfare with my brother, my family qualified for a special program that would pay for my education all the way through college. Off I went to Pennsylvania, dairy country, where I attended school for twelve years. While at boarding school, living in a group home, we would often take on different volunteering projects. We started taking trips to a nearby dairy barn, and there we would clean out stalls and bottle-feed baby calves.

At this young age, I wasn’t questioning where these calves’ mothers were, or why they needed a bottle filled with powdered milk. I would squat down next to these newborns and scratch their heads lovingly. One night at dinnertime, we all got in line for the buffet. Frozen peas and square carrots, boiled down to mush, mashed potatoes out of a box, and a strange breaded meat. I asked my houseparents what the strange meat was. “It’s veal.” I tried to recall if I had ever heard of this concoction. “What’s veal?” I asked. “Is it like hamburger, or chicken, or…” “No,” my housemother replied, “It’s baby cow.” “WHAT!! Baby cow? Like the ones we take care of?” “No, not them,” she said. “Oh...”

Eventually I stopped eating “weird” meat, and at age twelve I was an aspiring vegetarian. It took me until my freshman year in college to fully understand the importance and distinction of veganism. By this time I had met my loving fiancé, Nate, and slowly, without pressure, he came to understand my views on the abuse of animals.

The first time I visited Nate in his apartment, it was hard to avoid eye contact with the large bear rug that hung on the living room wall. He had been shot and dragged out of the woods by Nate himself. At the time Nate was also frying up steak and potatoes for dinner. He had never heard of a factory farm, or even thought about eggs and milk as murderous by-products. It was a whole new world to him. Together we went to the PETA Helping Animals 101 conference in New York City. There it was pounded into our heads that in every glass of milk or chunk of cheese is a little dead veal calf. I couldn’t handle the guilt, I decided to become vegan. It also helped that I was introduced to soy ice cream that weekend. I’ve been hooked ever since.

Together we went through the journey of cutting out home made mozzarella cheese and Mexican omelets on Saturday mornings. Fortunately, Nate is a great cook and has a lot of fun testing new recipes. You’ve probably tried one of his dishes at a vegan potluck!

As a couple, we have volunteered at different farm animal sanctuaries, strengthening our bond with the animals who are no longer on our plates. We have protested in front of KFC restaurants, and every year we go down to New York City for the annual Fur Free Friday demonstration. It’s obvious our passion has spread to include every issue facing animals, but it stemmed from learning about the most abused animals on the planet, farm animals.

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